How To Redirect A Site To A Secure PDF

I have a very specific question for you, Dave, so I hope that’s not a problem? I did a bunch of shopping online and really wanted to keep keep copies of the receipts, but many Web sites have a “Print” button for printing receipts. What I want instead is a copy on my computer, ideally in PDF form, so I can avoid anyone else seeing what’s on the printer (and blowing the surprise). Even better, can the PDF files be password protected and secure?? I have a big iMac if that makes a difference.

Dave’s Answer:

No, that’s not too specific. I mean, you didn’t tell me what sites you visited or what you bought for people! Oh, and if you’re still struggling for a perfect gift for me, I suggest you simply buy me a cuppa instead 🙂

You’re right, though, that Web sites that have a handy “print” button on their receipts would do well to offer shoppers a different path too, a way to save the receipt as a Web page. Then again, many of them automatically email you a copy of the receipt anyway, so if the site you’re on does that, you can theoretically just skip the print button entirely and be okay.

I was recently filling out a financial document online and encountered a similar sort of “Print” button, so I experimented and solved exactly the – yes, highly detailed! – situation you presented. Here’s what I did…

First off, here’s the page with the “Print” button on the top:

save web page printout as pdf 1

Click on the “Print” button to generate a printout of the information in question, but when you get to this point, don’t just click “Print” again:

save web page printout as pdf 2

Instead, see the “PDF” button on the lower left? Click on it…

save web page printout as pdf 3

Choose “Save as PDF…” and it’ll prompt you for a document name and some related information:

save web page printout as pdf 4

Fill all of these fields out as you desire, then click on “Security Options…” and you’ll see the final step desired:, the information on how to secure the document with a password:

save web page printout as pdf 5

Enter your desired password, click “OK”, then click “Save” on the previous window and the document will be saved. Encrypted!

Here’s how that shows up in the Finder on your Mac:

save web page printout as pdf 6

Try to preview it and you’ll learn that there’s no shortcut to getting into the content:

save web page printout as pdf 7

In fact, launch a PDF reader and you’re still going to need the password to open the document:

save web page printout as pdf 8

Handy. I actually keep a fair amount of content secure on my computer using this sort of technique. Handy for tax returns and other confidential information too, needless to say.

Now next time you have a very, very specific question, feel free to pop by and ask! 🙂

By Dave Taylor

Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980 and is internationally known as an expert on both business and technology issues. Holder of an MSEd and MBA, author of twenty books and founder of four startups, he also runs a strategic marketing company and consults with firms seeking the best approach to working with weblogs and social networks. Dave is an award-winning speaker and frequent guest on radio and podcast programs.

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